Chicago Cubs: Best first round picks of the past 25 years

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant

Building a championship team takes a lot of hard work and requires some good decisions. In many cases, it also requires things to align in your favor. One of the Cubs’ most important pieces of their 2016 championship team came because of that.

Kris Bryant was the Cubs’ first pick – and second overall – in the 2013 draft, from the University of San Diego. The Houston Astros, instead of selecting one of the most hyped bats in a long time, decided to go with pitcher Mark Appel with the first overall pick. Appel was a colossal bust, never making it to the majors.

Bryant, meanwhile, quickly made his way through the Cubs’ minor league system and, in the eyes of most observers, earned a spot with the big league club out of camp in 2015 (though we know the story behind that). Still, Bryant arrived early in 2015 and had a tremendous rookie season that earned him NL Rookie of the Year, batting .275 with 26 home runs and 99 RBIs.

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Bryant had an even better offensive season in 2016 and, mainly on the strength of his willingness to play the outfield along with third base, won NL MVP honors as the Cubs won the World Series. Though he didn’t hit for as much power in 2017, Bryant improved his OPS that season from the year before.

Bryant was slowed by injuries in 2018 but bounced back to have an excellent 2019 season still. He was the subject of daily trade rumors this past offseason, but the club decided to hang on to him for now. If Bryant does stay with the team long-term, he has a chance to be an all-time great hitter in team history. For now, considering all he’s accomplished with the Cubs, he has to be considered among their best first-round picks in recent years.